The Place He Wanted to Be

In less than two weeks, Rochester (Ill) linebacker Garret Dooley went from having zero contact with the Wisconsin coaching staff to be verbally committed to the school he calls 'the perfect fit.' Badger Nation has the breaking story.

MADISON - Although he had a feeling that his recruitment was going to heat up following his offer from Wisconsin on February 18, Garret Dooley knew Wisconsin was the school he wanted to pick thanks to a completely honest mistake.

With his father's friend doing some internet research on his newest offer, the friend thought he saw another linebacker had already committed to Wisconsin.

"When my dad told me that, it made me extremely mad," Dooley told Badger Nation. "I thought I had lost the opportunity to become a Badger."

Upon further investigation, that commitment was a mistake but the gut reaction and his emotions were not.

"If I can get that worked up over something like that, I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity," Dooley said. "I didn't want someone taking my scholarship so I had to jump on it."

It's not so much an early leap of faith for Dooley - a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker from Rochester (Ill) HS – because he had an inkling that Wisconsin was going to be place he wanted to go, even after new offers from Vanderbilt, Illinois and Indiana rolled in over the past week to join his previous offer from Northern Illinois.

He just knew that with Wisconsin having a small 2013 signing class between 10-12 players and likely only taking one or two linebackers, he wasn't going to stall on the school he knew was right.

"I think Wisconsin is definitely the perfect fit for me," Dooley said. "Every school that I saw is unbelievable. There is nothing against any other school, but I just feel that Wisconsin, without a doubt, is the right fit. I didn't see any other school that could beat Wisconsin. Wisconsin football is my kind of football – hard-nosed, physical football. It's what I am accustomed to."

In a span of 11 days, Dooley went from having no contact with the coaching staff to being Wisconsin's first firm verbal commitment in the 2013 recruiting class. Last season for Rochester, Dooley finished with 147 tackles at linebacker and 1,209 rushing yards, 598 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns as the team's running back.

With numbers and versatility like that, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, linebacker coach Andy Buh and defensive coordinator Chris Ash were understandably excited when Dooley made the call on Saturday.

"Coach Bielema was really ecstatic about it and really excited to hear my decision," said Dooley. "Coach Buh and Coach Ash were both extremely excited to hear I was going to be a Badger. Whenever I talked to them, they thought that Wisconsin fit me perfectly. I get good grades in school, so they knew that academics weren't going to be a problem. Wisconsin has great academics, which is a big plus for me.

"Them offering me after just knowing me for two days and seeing my highlight film, they obviously have to have a lot of trust that I can be a perfect fit for their program. I really like that they didn't offer me because of another school offered me. They offered me because I was good, and I like that."

With his simple decision behind him, Dooley plans are all about Wisconsin, visiting the Badgers for a couple spring practices, possibly the spring game, possibly camping at Wisconsin and buying some cardinal and white clothing.

"It takes a lot of stress off me and my family," said Dooley. "The coaches said that because I committed so early, I will be able to help them with the rest of the recruiting and the other kids in my class. That's pretty awesome that I get to do that. I am excited that this is off my chest and I can just play football."

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